Warnock blasts Georgia's voting overhaul

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Sen. Raphael Warnock on Friday lamented a suite of voting restrictions signed into law the night before in Georgia.

Republicans in the increasingly competitive state pushed through a law that imposes an ID requirement on absentee ballot requests, limits use of ballot drop boxes and shrinks the period for runoff contests, among other major changes.

“What the state Legislature did yesterday is to try to arrest the voices and the votes of the people,” Warnock, a Democrat, said at an event in Atlanta.

A proposal to discontinue Sunday early voting — a popular option among Black voters for church-based “Souls to the Polls” events — was one of the most contentious changes considered in the statehouse, but the package signed by Gov. Brian Kemp on Thursday instead ended up increasing in-person weekend voting.

Republicans, in Georgia and elsewhere, have framed the push to clamp down on voting laws as promoting “election integrity” and addressing concerns about “rampant voter fraud” — despite a dearth of evidence that it is a pervasive problem.

“You are literally going to make public policy based on a lie, based on the feeling that some people have that things didn’t turn out the way they should have turned out?” Warnock said. “Is that how we make public policy?”

Warnock, who along with fellow Democrat Jon Ossoff, knocked off a Republican incumbent senator in a January runoff that followed former President Donald Trump’s loss to Joe Biden in the state.

Warnock linked those victories to the recently passed $1.9 trillion stimulus deal that was negotiated and passed along partisan lines, and reiterated his calls for the Senate to pass legislation to increase voting access — and to alter the filibuster if need be.

“The issue of voting rights is about the democracy itself,” he said. “It’s much bigger than any Senate rule.”

Democratic state Rep. Park Cannon was arrested after she was among a group of protesters gathered outside the governor’s office as Kemp signed the bill into law. Video footage captured her knocking on the door and then being arrested and forcibly removed from outside the governor’s office. Warnock, a pastor, said that Cannon is a member of his congregation and that he visited her last night while she was being held.

“All of us owe her a debt of gratitude in a real sense for standing up,” he said.

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